2018 Mazda 787b. This was the race number of the 787B Mazman Award-winning LeMans of 1991. The only Asian brand to ever win is generally through the LMP1 class, and this is the story of the completion of the races that still force ERCS Toyota, Nissan and Honda to the same day.
In 1991, Mazda became both the first manufacturer, and the only Japanese to ever win at Le Mans 24 hours. As it did with a unique engine – a rotary unit with four rotors, three spark plugs per room and a maximum power of more than 700bhp at 9000rpm. This car will be a star at the Goodwood Speed Festival this year as part of a larger tribute to the Mazda brand.
Access to these heights was also won by Lehmanns epic moment of the rotary force, coinciding with the launch of the sports car RX-7 redesigned in the same year. The benefits of a rotary motor are intense light, one moving assembly (rotor) versus several pistons of four, six or eight cylinders.
The engineering elegance of Mazda has dominated the mind since 1961, so the Leman’s win in 1991 represents the culmination of at least two of the top Mazda technical experts. We celebrate the car today with a collection of photos and videos from 1991, plus photos of the 2011 anniversary run by the No. 55 winner on his old haunt: Curves and Straight Lee Sarth.
Among the new exhibits from the new Mazda 2, Cross-3 and the new Mazda MX-5, the festival will celebrate the unique engineering achievements of Mazda over the years – from its continuation with rotary technology to the current fuel-efficient SKYACTIVE engines currently installed by the Mazda Group.
Mazda UK Managing Director Jeremy Thompson cites Mazda as the only manufacturer dealing with the rotary engine, the only manufacturer that uses the Miller cycle engine and the company that developed the smallest V6 production.
All of these can be somewhat contested – Nissan currently sells Miller’s cycle micra, Mitsubishi developed a 1.6-liter V6 back in the 1990s, and arguably the roller coaster route is a long way from perfect – but Mazda’s use of this technology is an example of a company that constantly pushed Design and Engineering Limits.
Mazda cars will be featured on the famous Goodwood Hillclimp, on the march of Forest Possession on June 25, and visitors will be able to sample the company’s current range at the popular mobile car show.